Database is the structural collection of data.
This reading by Manovich is quite obviously dated, looking at CD-Roms and all that. He talks about a database on a CD about a famous figure, like a biography that allows you to access various texts, imges and clips. Today we have wikipedia, which gives us that on anyone remotely famous. Wikipedia just dominates all databases. It IS the database. Why even talk about databases when you can just talk about Wikipedia. And it’s not just wikipedia. There are various wikis for various topics of interest, one of the largest being Wookiepedia, the Star Wars wiki. Now that is a database. That has the most detailed analysis on every character, starship, species, plant life, midichlorian stuff and droid that will ever exist. Databasing has become popular because of the acceessibility of it. If you knew some information about some new plant, there would have been so much effort to put in to chronicle that content. Now days, you just amke a wikipedia page for it.
My best example of mental databasing is mapping. I bought GTA V last week and I’m thrown into the fictional city Los Santos. I don’t know where I am or where anything is. Yes, there is a map that you can access, but you need to travel to the places first to see that area of the map. Mental mapping is awesome. I think back now to the first 15 minutes of playing the game and seeing locations in the game which I was clueless about but now I know where they are because I’ve put time into learning the location. But the thing is you don’t try to learn it. It just happens. Your brain automatically puts all the data into your head to assemble.